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Old Scars and Parasites, a poem from George Kalamaras

Old Scars and Parasites
by George Kalamaras

Let me return to the arctic fox.
The walruses off the coast of East Greenland molt their skin each August to rid themselves 
    of old scars and parasites.

I wish it were as easy to begin each day.
I wish I could leave the imprint in the bed, not keep recalling depth by sleep.   

The walruses can descend up to sixty feet to feed but, after five minutes, return to the
    surface for air.
I consider how the forest rishis mastered the breath and what else they must have learned
     from the sad hair of trees.

The roadside shadow billows with woodstove smoke.
It has been a long spring, summer, and fall, fearing—as we have—the cold.

Let me discern the arctic fox surviving on the spoils of bears.
You can hear their whimpering a long way off, as if from the blood-stained snout of a
    trapped fifth season.

Bio: George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana, is the author of seven books of poetry and seven chapbooks, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.